Three Poems To Help With Despair…

Hold

Gowri Koneswaran

we’re taught to hold hands

when we cross the street

or walk with our mothers in parking lots or

navigate crowds with a friend and

don’t want to end up alone

hold hands with whomever is closest

when the power goes out

when the sirens scream near

when the moving of men marches

silences into the corner

hold hands when

they come calling,

when they threaten,

“this is necessary to

teach you a lesson” or

“this is necessary

to protect you”

hold hands when we stand still,

when we walk, when

we run

when they tell us to

surrender

when they tell us

to do anything

hold hands when we

fall from the sky,

with or without parachute

when we leap from tall buildings,

with or without

the ability to fly

hold hands with the ones who

don’t

look like us,

talk like us,

believe like us

hands like fragile boxes or bombs,

things that could break or explode

each finger a troop in the human army

each gesture a shield

Kindness

Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

Rainer Maria Rilke

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

say to the silent earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29

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